Free safety contender Tyler has hometown motivation to start vs. Tide

MORGANTOWN, W.Va. — Given the camp buzz surrounding four-star recruit Dravon Henry, it seems Jeremy Tyler is being cast as “the other” free safety.

Freshman free safety Dravon Henry has been competing with Jeremy Tyler for a starting spot.

Yet it’s premature to peg Henry the frontrunner, especially with Tyler having designs on starting against Alabama.

“It means a lot, because that’s my hometown Atlanta,” he said. “It’s about me getting better and showing the coaches that I’m really ready to start for us in the Georgia Dome.”

While Henry arrived with glowing high school credentials, Tyler was hardly a recruiting unknown. He signed with West Virginia last year over 21 FBS offers, including the likes of South Carolina, Texas A&M, Oklahoma State and Louisville.

He appeared in eight games, including one start in the season-ending loss to Iowa State. Tyler feels more game-ready entering his sophomore season.

“It’s not the same mentality I have this year,” he said. “Now I see what it takes. I see what the college level is about.”

Holgorsen likes Tyler’s progress: “He’s been good. We have a pretty good battle going on there. That’s a prime example of a guy who understands a little more what we’re doing now than he did a year ago.”

Regardless who seizes the starting nod against Alabama on Aug. 30, Henry projects as a crucial cog in this season’s secondary.

That was the case with true freshman safety Karl Joseph in 2012 and cornerback Daryl Worley in 2013. While the players encountered a depth chart that wasn’t very imposing, Joseph emphasized, “We all came in prepared and ready to play.”

He witnessed that determination from Worley and saw a commonality when Henry enrolled in June.

“They weren’t acting like a lot of freshmen,” Joseph said. “They came in ready to compete.”

Back on signing day, Henry said WVU coaches promised him he’d make an immediate impact if he put in the work. And by all accounts he made good on his end during summertime conditioning sessions.

“Dravon was the top guy in all the sprints and all the drills,” Joseph said. “Usually they give some of the freshmen reps off, but he was like, ‘Nah I’m going to do all of them.'”

Joseph doesn’t buy the contention he could be worn down from playing such a high percentage of plays his first two seasons.

“I try to play as much as I can. Through the nicks and bruises, I try to stick it out,” he said. “I try to be tough about it. I try not to take any reps off.”

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